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XenApp Monitoring: XenApp Farm Health Report and Farm Nanny

Although Citrix Resource Manager was not perfect, many Citrix administrators are missing the functionality when they upgrade to XenApp 6.x. EdgeSight is after too complicated and requires more back-end components, while in large companies the central monitoring system is too complex, provide too much information and/or does not satisfy the specific needs of Citrix administrators. Happily this gap is (partly) filled my some freeware tools, where in this article XenApp Farm Health Report and Farm Nanny.

XenApp Farm Health Report

 




XenApp Farm Health Report is developed by Jason Poyner. The utility is actually a PowerShell script, so no installation is required. XenApp Farm Health Report is developed primarily giving you an overview what the current status is of your XenApp Farm on the most important and critical components. As it is a script it is running all the time, every time you run the script the components are checked and the status is shown in a simple GUI. The script checks the following components:

-          - ping response, is the server reachable (or not) on basic IP level

-          - Logon Enabled, is the Microsoft RDS logon enabled/disabled/drained

-          - Which Load Evaluator is assigned

-          - ICA response, is there a response on ICA port 1494 (unfortunate session reliability port 2598 is not checked)

-          - WMI response, checking if WMI is responsive

-          - Server Uptime, the current up-time is checked and if this is more than a week it will mention that Reboots have not taken place

For informational purposes also the Server Folder Path is shown. Also the assigned Worker Groups per server are shown, which can be useful if you use those for assigning Load Evaluators (for example I use those for reboots as described in the article Reboot XenApp 6.5 servers).

The information provided is most useful as a kind of morning check for the first administrator that enters the office. Personally I think you should be capable to adjust the script to your needs. Good examples are the Load Evaluator part. As seen in the screenshot it provides a red color to my load evaluators, caused that I’m using an own configured Load Evaluator. In this case the Load Evaluators are correct, so those boxes should be green. Also the script uses weekly reboots as a starting point, while your reboot schedule can be different. As an additional it would be nice if the amount of session of current load could be shown, that will provide even a better view of the health of the Citrix infrastructure.

Farm Nanny

Farm Nanny is developed by Michel Stevelmans. Just like XenApp Farm Health Farm Nanny does not require an installation. It is a single executable including a set of DLL files that should be placed on the same location (directory). In comparison with XenApp Farm Health Farm Nanny offers much more functionality and options. Michel extended the product in a short time, mainly based on the feedback of customers and users of Farm Nanny. Farm Nanny is divided in several topics:

-          Resource Monitor

This component provides overall view of the Citrix servers within your farm. The total sessions (both active as disconnected) are shown and per row for each server the load, the active session, unique active session IDs, disconnect session, the logon status (enabled, disabled), the connected load evaluator and zone member ship are displayed. The order of those metrics can be adjusted. You can select the server and more details are provided like the IP-address, uptime, Available Memory, Available Disk space and the status of Print services. Personally it would be nice if this additional information also could be added as a column in the overview. On the other tabs the current installed hotfixes and available printer drivers are shown.

-          Health Checker

The Health Checker component provides some more specific information on some components. Most components are command line tools build in the GUI of Farm Nanny. Query Farm is good example, this is actually qfarm.exe. Within Health Checker you can also check License Server availability (check on icense port response), XenApp server availability (check per server response on port 1494), Data store validation (which runs dscheck) and the possibility to change the logon status (disabled, enabled or drained).

-          Reporter

Currently not the order in the GUI itself, but because it’s related to Resource Monitor and Health Checker I would like to describe this one first. Reporter offers the possibility to export the information shown at Resource Monitor and Health Checker into an Excel file (without the need to have Excel installed on the server). This can be used for creating reports.

-          Printer Driver Replication

From XenApp 6.x Citrix removed the GUI options for printer driver replication out of the console. It is still possible to use Citrix Driver Replication, but this should be done using PowerShell commands. With this component Michel created a GUI for these PowerShell commands. Start Farm Nanny on the server which will act as the Source Server (where you added the additional drivers yourself). With the printer driver replication component you select the printer driver(s) you would like to replicate to the other servers. When you would like to remove a drive you select the tab Auto Replication List, select the driver and choose the remove button. This component only works for XenApp 6.5.

-          Hotfix Browser / Technote Browser

The last components Hotfix and Technote Brower require an internet connection on the server you started Farm Nanny. Farm Nanny connects to the Citrix support site and based on the version of your XenApp it filters the Hotfixes and Technotes from that website and shows those within the Farm Nanny GUI. Nice idea.

The only remark I have personally it the lack of a refresh button. If you would like to see new data you need to select another component and then go back to the component you would like to be refreshed. Also an auto refresh option could be useful.

Conclusion

Both utilities provide some basic information about the current status of your XenApp farm, but are not full replacements of Resource Monitor. Resource Monitor was more about performance metrics and alerting on those counters, while these tools provide more information about the current status of the components of a Citrix server. However especially Farm Nanny offers server functionalities that provide added value to current XenApp implementations.